Unsure whether I should stay or transfer

Hello all, I applied and got into Penn State in the past year. I had a 31ACT and 3.7 uw gpa. After receiving all my letters of acceptance I was very unsure and did not do a lot of research in colleges bedsides us-news rankings. This lead me to go out of state to penn state for engineering (I also really liked the campus look during covid)

I am attending the summer session but have begun to feel… weird about my decision. I am originally from NJ and many people consider Rutgers better. Although I do not think the campus is as beautiful I can see why they think that way.
Anyways, I may be feeling homesick but I have looked online and in more detail about rankings for schools and engineering. I realized that, although penn state is ranked highly in engineering in US-news, starting salaries and internship opportunities do not appear very good as compared to other similar leveled schools.

  • all these rankings, as the anxious kid I am (also I feel guilty having my parents pay for my tuition if I can’t get the best possible) have made me rethink coming to penn state

I need advice:

  1. should I even consider transferring to other schools (if so, which and why)
  2. what should I do to build my resume in penn state for a freshman engineer
  3. am I even being reasonable to be considering this or am I just overthinking everything like I always do?

Anything helps thanks

I do not know that there is a meaningful difference between Rutgers and Penn State to employers, so I would not worry about the average salaries. A lot of things are impacting that number, including the fact that Penn State sends a lot of grads to lower cost of living areas like Western PA and west and south of that, while Rutgers’ grads are usually ending up in the high COL New York metro.

Jump into your experience at Penn State with both feet, and enjoy it. If something comes up that makes you hate the school, you can always transfer later.


Please don’t base your transfer decision on “rankings”.


Please don’t start off your freshman year thinking about transferring. PSU has a great engineering program! Get excited about Penn State, get involved in clubs and activities that you enjoy, put yourself out there and make friends.

What you can do freshman year - Go to the career center early and start working on your resume and elevator pitch. Go to every career fair you can to practice, even if companies say they aren’t hiring freshmen, go where there is no line and talk to them to improve your interviewing skills.

Go to office hours, go to review sessions, join study groups.

You’ve got this!


I will add, however. Is Penn State financially OK…in other words, can your parents pay their share without taking out loans?


Many/most kids get homesick.

Get to school, get involved, do things with your roomies or neighbors if you can.

Sometimes it takes til Thanksgiving - but it will all work out.

As an overall experience, and we are all different, but Penn State crushes Rutgers. And you’ve got great ice cream at the dairy!!

What an awesome school!! Congrats to you.

Time cures homesickness - get busy - and you’ll look back with happiness.


@Tristan1 writes: “many people consider Rutgers better”. Well sure they do, you’re asking people in NJ. Ask people in PA and you’d get a different opinion.

" I was very unsure and did not do a lot of research in colleges bedsides us-news rankings." For engineering rankings are irrelevant. Programs are ABET acredited so you’ll study the same subjects anywhere. There are some elite schools such as Caltech/MIT/Stanford where the admission bar is so high employers expect the grads to be amazing (and they are). But most of the rest, including your pair, fall into the broad middle. Employers view them as the same, although they tend to recruit in their local region since its cheaper to put a few interviewers in a car than fly them across the country. Success in engineering depends on you – studying hard for good grades, looking for internships, etc.

“what should I do to build my resume in penn for a freshman engineer?” Grades are what will matter. You’ll need to study, more than you know, and you’re not going to believe me. Figure 6-9 hours outside of class for each math/science class. You need to get the “problem solver” books (look on Amazon) for each subject; these have hundreds of worked problems. Spend hours solving them. Nobody believes they need to study this much. They got good grades in HS with much less work, and away at college they see lots of kids having the time of their life with no apparent studying.

" all these rankings, as the anxious kid I am (also I feel guilty having my parents pay for my tuition if I can’t get the best possible) have made me rethink coming to penn state" Reading between the lines, your parents are paying much more for you to go there. Ask them if they can easily afford it. If so, fine. If not, here’s a suggestion instead of xfer. Withdraw from summer session, take a gap year. Look carefully into whether you can apply again as a frosh if you take any classes at a CC; it might be best not to. Right now employers are desperate for workers so you might be able to get a job at $20/hr and put aside quite a lot of money. Frosh year everyone is new and looking to make friends; after a year it is noticeably more difficult to break into existing social groups, depending on how outgoing you are. A year working will also do wonders for your motivation to succeed; overall about 1/2 of those starting in engineering drop out of the major and I think it’s largely due to lack of desire.

1 Like

Penn State and Rutgers are both very good universities. In terms of the quality of the program, if I were a student at either or the parent of a student at either I would consider the schools overall to both be very good and both be very similar in quality.

Rankings are nearly useless. Ignore them.

Average salaries for graduates generally varies based largely on the mix of majors of students at each school, and how expensive it is to live in each location. Rutgers for example might send more graduates to work in New York City just because it is nearby. New York City is a very expensive place to live, and therefore jobs there tend to pay slightly better than jobs elsewhere. However, the slightly better pay is probably not going to quite totally offset the high cost of living.

In making this decision, I would focus on how much each university will cost you, whether you can afford this with minimal or no loans, which school you want to attend, whether your credits will transfer, and what you just want to do.

In terms of helping your job prospects after graduation, the #1 thing is picking a major that leads to a good career. Engineering is a good start here. Doing well in your classes will also help. You should also look for internships or coop opportunities. A couple of internships over the summers can be very helpful.

If you can afford Penn State without loans, if you get good grades, and if you can find an internship or two, then you will be solidly on track to get a good job after graduation. I would say this regardless of whether a student was at Penn State, Rutgers, or any one of probably 100 other universities.

This is pretty accurate - my son goes to Bama (great school, beautiful engineering facilities - but no where to be found in any ranking). He worked at a major auto OEM this summer and his two roomies went to GA Tech. So you can find success from anywhere!!

Yes they can but I won’t lie, I do feel a bit guilty about the high tuition